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Stop illegal movement of end-of-life US ship Exxon Valdez in Indian waters in pursuance of US Ship Disposal Policy

Written By Krishna on Thursday, June 28, 2012 | 5:47 AM


Shri A. P. Singh
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
New Delhi

June 28, 2012

Subject-illegal movement of end-of-life US ship Exxon Valdez in Indian waters in pursuance of US Ship Disposal Policy


This is to inform you that in violation of the Supreme Court order dated May 3, 2012 in the matter of dead US ship ex Exxon Valdez/shipbreaking/hazardous wastes/ case (Writ Petition Civil 657 of 1995), it is reliably learnt that the hazardous and end-of-life US vessel has got permission to anchor off Bhavnagar from Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) on June 28, 2012. This vessel is moving to Bhavnagar in the name of inspection by the GMB and Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB). Its movement must be halted to demonstrate that Indian law enforcement agencies are not subservient to US Ship Disposal Policy.

I submit that the matter was heard on June 25, 2012 wherein the court refused the ship owner of ex Exxon Valdez any relief.

I submit that in two of Supreme Court's orders of October 14, 2003 and September 6, 2007, the relevant part reads: "At the international Level, India should participate...with a clear mandate for the decontamination of ships of their hazardous substances such as asbestos, waste oil, gas and PCBs prior to exports to India for breaking."

I submit that in its order dated June 25, 2012, Supreme Court’s Vacation Bench of Justice HL Gokhle and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai has ordered that the matter of dead US ship Exxon Valdez should be placed before the appropriate Bench. The ship owners had tried their luck even before another Vacation Bench of Justice Deepak Verma and Justice Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhopadhya on May 14. Both the benches have refused any relief to the owners of US hazardous dead vessel now named MV Oriental N (Formerly, Oriental Nicety, Exxon Valdez, Exxon Mediterranean, Sea River Mediterranean, S/R Mediterranean, Mediterranean, and Dong Fang Ocean).

I submit that on May 3, 2012 order the bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar in the matter of this US hazardous dead vessel that was trying to enter Indian waters at Alang beach Bhavnagar has sought compliance with UN’s Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal to which India is a party. It had refused any berthing permission to the dead ship. The ship owners have failed to comply with the order so far. The continued presence of this dead US ship in Indian waters off Mumbai coast is in violation of court’s order. The authorities must ensure that the ship is sent away from the Indian waters.

I submit that Union Ministry of Environment & Forests appears to be acting contrary to the precedent the ministry set in the matter of Platinum II (ex-SS Independence, MV Oceanic), another US dead ship which entered Indian waters on fake documents and violation of US Toxics Substances Control Act. The same is being violated in this case as well because the ship is PCB laden. The submission of the Ministry is erroneous and will be suitably replied during the course of the hearing.

I submit that US Maritime Administration (MARAD)’s dubious act was witnessed in the case of Platinum II (ex SS INDPENDENCE, MV OCEANIC), a dead and hazardous US ship, the real owners had taken Indian law enforcement agencies for a ride due to lack of coordination and cooperation between concerned ministries. In an Office Memorandum No.29-3/2009-HSMD, Government of India, Ministry of Environment & Forests, (HSM Division) dated 9th May, 2011, relating to implementation of Supreme Court directions in respect of ship breaking activities, the previous dead and convicted US ship, Platinum II (Ex SS Oceanic, MV Oceanic) was denied beaching permission but it remained in Indian waters without beaching. It had left US waters despite indictment by US Environment Protection Agency with the apparent connivance of US MARAD. It had entered Indian waters on proven fake documents.

I submit that the Focal Ministry for ship breaking is Ministry of Steel as per court order dated October 14, 2003 and September 6, 2007. The Inter Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking set up by the order is under this very Ministry. It has made many recommendations which have been filed in the court. These recommendations have not been complied with by Gujarat Maritime Board and Gujarat Pollution Control Board.

I submit that a perusal of the Supreme Court orders of June 25, May 3 and May 14 2012 along with my application seeking compliance with court's order and Basel Convention and the application of Hongkong based Best Oasis company, subsidiary of Gujarat based Priya Blue Ship Recycling Pvt Ltd seeking permission to anchor Exxon Valdez (MV Oriental N) at Alang reveals that the US vessel is non-compliant with US laws, Indian laws and international laws besides the courts order.

I submit that US’s export of dead and toxic ships like Platinum –II, 'Exxon Valdez' and now 'Delaware Trader' to Indian waters to poisons fragile Indian coastal environment, workers, fishermen, villagers must be stopped.

I submit that there is a need for a probe in the role of Indian officials who are colluding with the vested interests from USA.

I wish to inform you that another dead and hazardous US flagged ship, “DELAWARE TRADER” (IMO No. 8008929) has been cleared by the U.S. Maritime Administration (US MARAD) for dismantling in the infamous shipbreaking yards of Alang beach, Bhavnagar, Gujarat. It is expected to arrive in Indian waters in the coming days. It was last reported at the Port of Maputo, Mozambique on 13 June, 2012. TWA demands that DELAWARE TRADER should not be allowed to enter Indian waters. These ships enter Indian waters and present fait accompli to the law enforcement agencies.

I submit that the ex Exxon Vadez is currently located off Mumbai in a manifest act of illegality. The violations of Supreme Court’s order, international law and the complicit violations of Indian laws and U.S. law is on full display. The rule of law will be tested once again when the DELAWARE TRADER soon arrives in Indian waters, the court will surely compel it to comply with its order.

I submit that there are hazardous materials, such as asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), used in the ship's construction. Workers condition on the Alang beach is one of the worst. They are under extremely dangerous and polluting conditions where workers labor on tidal sands to cut ships up by hand, exposing themselves to the risks of toxic chemicals, fires, explosions and falling steel plates. Pollutants are allowed to flow unimpeded into the marine environment.

I submit that the court’s actions are consistent with multilateral decisions made in October 2011, when 178 parties to the Basel Convention met in Cartagena, Colombia to not only re-endorse the Basel Ban Amendment forbidding the export of hazardous wastes from rich to poorer countries, but also resolve that the Basel Convention must continue to prohibit the dumping of end-of-life vessels on developing countries.

I submit that India's maritime security is under threat from hazardous waste trade mafia.

I submit that those officials of Ministry of Shipping, GPCB and GMB who allowed Platinum II to remain in Indian waters despite denial of permission for beaching must be probed and punished. It is noteworthy that USA’s regulations and European Union regulations prohibit the entry of such vessels in their waters.

I submit that the USA which is a non-party to Basel Convention appears to be testing the robustness to the regulatory regime. If a bad precedent is set by allowing this dead US ship, Indian waters will be flooded with hundreds of dead ships both of military and military origin in the aftermath of the lifting of moratorium on transfer of toxic ships to developing countries by US Government.

I submit that a letter to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism & Culture informing it about a letter of Shri Rajgopal Sharma, Advisor, Indian Embassy, Brussels dated December 20, 2011 wherein it has been revealed that most of the dead and hazardous ships that are currently at Alang beach are in illegal traffic. The letter was based on Shri Sharma’s conversation with Shri Julio Garcia Burgues, Head of the Waste Management Unit, European Commission – DG Environment. This reveals that even EU is trying to transfer its dead ships to India.

I take the opportunity to also place on record that the 7th Annual Ship Recycling Conference held during 19 - 20 June 2012 in London and the Joint Seminar held in Mumbai on June 14, 2012 are attempts by European ship owners in particular to mutilate Basel Convention and facilitate free trade in hazardous wastes like end-of-life vessels through proposed International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s Honkong Convention and amendments in the EU Waste Shipment Regulation. Under the Basel Convention end-of-life vessels are considered hazardous wastes and is sensitive to adverse impact of hazardous waste generating global shipping industry on coastal environmental health but the proposed IMO and EU legislations puts profit above gnawing environmental and occupational health concerns. The fact is these are fit cases of corporate crimes.

I submit that ship owning countries are attempting to green wash their sinful act of transferring harm to vulnerable countries like India, Bangladesh and Pakistan disregarding the fact that safe and environmentally responsible vessel dismantling cannot be achieved on a tidal beach as is currently being done amidst deafening and complicit silence of most of the environmental groups of the developed countries.

I submit that Supreme Court's Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes has recommended CBI probe to get to the bottom of the goings on in the hazardous wastes trade.

It is sad but it appears that Alang, Bhavnagar has seceded from India because rule of Indian laws does not seem to regulate the state of affairs their. It has earned notorious reputation of being a fake document factory.

In view of the above facts, there is a compelling logic to intervene earnestly to set matters right by sending the dead US ship away from Indian waters and by ensuring that another US flagged ship called Delaware Trader (IMO No. 8008929) is not allowed to enter Indian waters.

Therefore, CBI and other concerned agencies ought to coordinate their efforts to demonstrate sensitivity towards Indian environmental borders which is routinely being compromised so much so that since 1982 till date more than 5000 dead foreign ships have been dumped in India's fragile coastal environment of Alang beach.

Thanking You

Yours faithfully

Gopal Krishna
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA)
New Delhi
PIN. 110016
Phone: +91-11-26517814, Fax: +91-11-26517814
Mb: 08002263335, 09818089660
Web: toxicswatch.blogspot.com

Shri Anand Sharma, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry
Shri G K Vasan, Union Minister of Shipping
Shri A K Antony, Union Defence Minister
Shri Beni Prasad Verma, Union Minister of Steel
Smt Jayanthi Natrajan, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Jyotiraditya Madhavrao Scindia, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Chairman & Members, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science, Technology, Environment & Forests
Shri A K Seth, Cabinet Secretary, Government of India
Shri R K Singh, Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs
Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Secretary, Union Ministry of Shipping
Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment & Forests
Secretary, Union Ministry of Defence
Secretary, Union Ministry of Steel
Smt. Vijay Laxmi Joshi, Additional Secretary , Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ms Meera Mehrishi, Additional Secretary, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Shri Madhusudan Prasad, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Shri Rajeev Kher, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Ms Anita Agnihotri, Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Shri Mukesh Bhatnagar, Additional DGFT, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Dr. Satish B. Agnihotri Director General of Shipping & Ex. Officio Additional Secretary to the Govt. of India
Chairman, Inter Ministerial Committee on Shipbreaking, Union Ministry of Steel
Shri S.S. Bajaj, Chairman, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Mumbai
Ms Aditi Das Rout, Director, Union Ministry of Commerce & Industry
Dr. Saroj, Director, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Dr. Manoranjan Hota, Director, HSMD, Union Minister of Environment & Forests
Dr Claude Alvares, Member, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Dr D B Boralkar, Member, Supreme Court Monitoring Committee on Hazardous Wastes
Shri Sanjay Parikh, Lawyer, Supreme Court
Miss Sunita Naraian, Director General, Centre for Science and Environment
Member Secretary, Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB)
Chairman, GPCB
Chairman, Gujarat Maritime Board
Shri S K Sharma, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
Shri L S Singh, Union Ministry of Steel
ACB, Gandhinagar, CBI
Office of Commissioner, Customs, Ahmedabad
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